Tuesday 31 December 2013

Westerns read during 2013

Here's a list of all the westerns I've read during 2013. Most have been reviewed here (click the number to go to the individual review). Those I haven't reviewed yet I hope to get around to soon and will update links as and when I can. I tend to miss reviewing books when I read them on holiday or when I'm ill and then find time escapes me when trying to catch up. I've not as many read as in previous years due to reading other types of books.

JANUARY READS – 10 books

1. The Trailsman #375: Texas Swamp Fever by Jon Sharpe
2. Killing Melvin Badthunder by Peter Brandvold
3. Bowen & Baile #2: Before I Die by Frank Roderus
4. Cotton’s Devil by Phil Dunlap
5. Six for Texas by Elliot Long
6. The Reluctant Gun Hand by Logan Winters
7. Mexico Breakout by Ben Bridges
8. Clancy’s Last War by Terrell L. Bowers
9. The Pecos Kid #6: Bad to the Bone by Jack Bodine
10. Longarm and the Ambush at Holy Defiance by Tabor Evans


11. Bladen Cole: Bounty Hunter by Bill Yenne
12. Resolution by Robert B. Parker
13. Lola: Locked & Loaded by Peter Brandvold
14. Tom Rider’s Reckoning by Rob Hill
15. The Trailsman #376: New Mexico Madman by Jon Sharpe
16. Mr Gunn by Tyler Hatch
17. Last Day in Paradise by Paul Green
18. Chaparral Range War by Dusty Richards
19. The Trail West by William W. Johnstone with J.A. Johnstone

MARCH READS – 9 books

20. War Paint by W.R. Benton
21. The Trailsman #377: Bounty Hunt by Jon Sharpe
22. Redemption: Trackdown by James Reasoner
23. The Nations by Ken Farmer and Buck Stienke
24. Blood Feud 2: Hounds of Hell by David Robbins
25. Genesis Gunplay by John Davage
26. Devil’s Deal by Lee Walker
27. Latigo by Steve Hayes
28. Gunsmith Giant: The Further Adventures of James Butler Hickok by J.R. Roberts

APRIL READS – 8 books

29. Jeremiah Painter by George Wolk
30. The Trailsman #378: Wyoming Winterkill by Jon Sharpe
31. Bad Justice by Frank Leslie
32. The Proclaimers by Lee Clinton
33. South to Sonora by Michael Stewart
34. Night of the Gunslinger by I.J. Parnham
35. Into the Snow by John Erwin
36. Marshal South Rides Again edited by Diana Lindsay

MAY READS – 8 books

37. Rogue Lawman: Heed the Thunder by Peter Brandvold
38. Comes the Reaper by B.J. Holmes
39. The Trailsman #379: Hangtown Hellcat
40. The Devil’s Work by Paul Bedford
41. Dust and Bullets by Vance Tillman
42. To Kill the Valko Kid by Michael D. George
43. A Bullet for Sartain by Clifton Drago
44. West of the Big River #1: The Lawman by James Reasoner

JUNE READS – 9 books

45. Rio Concho #1: Showdown in Abilene by Alfred Wallon
46. Coyote’s Trail by Edward M. Erdelac
47. The Trailsman #380: Texas Tornado by Jon Sharpe
48. Bowen & Baile #3: Felicity by Frank Roderus
49. Confessions of a Gunfighter by Tell Cotton
50. A Storm in Montana by Will DuRey
51. The Preacher’s Legacy by Walter L. Bryant
52. The Comanche Fights Again by D.M. Harrison
53. The Trailsman #381: Bowie’s Knife by Jon Sharpe

JULY READS – 6 books

54. Talbot Roper #2: The Reluctant Pinkerton by Robert J. Randisi
55. Viva Reaper! By B.J. Holmes
56. Shootout at Hellyer’s Creek by Chap O’Keefe
57. Wilderness #67: The Gift by David Robbins
58. Write a Western in 30 Days by Nik Morton
59. Last Stand at Bitter Creek by Tom Rizzo

AUGUST READS – 10 books

60. Monty McCord by Chuck Tyrell
61. Blood Money by D.D. Lang
62. Whiplash by Owen G. Irons
63. The Bank Robber by Giles Tippette
64. The Trailsman #382: Terror Trackdown by Jon Sharpe
65. Rogue Soldiers by Corba Sunman
66. Sharper’s Quest by Jay D. West
67. Missouri Vigilantes by Mark Bannerman
68. Holt County Law by Richard Prosch
69. The Scout #1: Rowan’s Raiders by Buck Gentry


70. The Trailsman #383: High Plains Massacre by Jon Sharpe
71. The Return by James D. Best
72. Sipping Whiskey in a Shallow Grave by Mark Mitten
73. Triplecross Trail by Josh Lockwood
74. Pope’s Bounty by Aaron Adams
75. The Hot Spurs by Boyd Cassidy


76. The Derby Man #6: Explosion at Donner Pass by Gary McCarthy
77. El Paso Way by Steven Law
78. Guns of the Reaper by B.J. Holmes
79. Valley of the Damned by Cordell Falk
80. The Storms #3: Riders West by Matt Chisholm
81. Comanche Moon by Simon Webb


82. The High Trail by Rob Hill
83. Skeleton Hand by C.J. Sommers
84. The Trailsman #385: Thunderhead Trail by Jon Sharpe
85. Murphy #2: Murphy’s Gold by Gary Paulsen
86. The Afterlife of Slim McCord by Jack Martin
87. The Gunsmith #384: Louisiana Stalker by J.R. Roberts
88. Trouble at Nathan’s Ford by Jack Sheriff


89. The Bronc Buster by Billy Hall
90. Town Tamers by David Robbins
91. Livin’ on Jacks and Queens edited by Robert J. Randisi
92. Bladen Cole #2: The Fire of Greed by Bill Yenne
93. Gideon Ryder #1: Smugglers’ Gold by Lyle Brandt
94. Gun Storm by Corba Sunman
95. Darrow’s Gamble by Gillian F. Taylor
96. Trace Takes a Hand by Owen G. Irons
97. Jake Moran #1: Dead Man’s Crossing by Robert Broomall

Sunday 29 December 2013

Darrow's Gamble

By Gillian F. Taylor
Hale, December 2013

‘Set a thief to catch a thief’ is a risky strategy for a lawman to take but Sheriff Darrow has very personal reasons for wanting to catch the bank robber, Tom Croucher. Forced to stay in Wyoming and unable to search for the outlaw, Darrow is relying on two convicted criminals, Tomcat Billy and Irish, to do the job for him.

But Tomcat hates Darrow, and Irish wants to go straight. They join Croucher’s gang but who deserves their loyalty – the outlaw or the sheriff?

This is the fourth in Gillian F. Taylor’s Sheriff Darrow series and it’s the first one I’ve read. There is mention of how Darrow became the man who arrested Tomcat and Irish and I’m guessing this can be read about in more detail in the previous book, Darrow’s Badge.

One of Gillian F. Taylor’s strengths is her character studies and how she makes both good and bad likeable in some way, and as you read more about them part of you will be hoping they all survive but, of course, this can’t happen.

I’ve only read two of Taylor’s earlier books and in both of these horses played important and memorable parts and she continues with this theme here. Darrow’s horse being that animal in this story, providing both funny and sad scenes that will stick in my mind for a long time.

The story is filled with lively action, battles of loyalty, and plenty of twists and turns. Darrow’s tough exterior is seen to begin to crack a number of times, especially when he’s wondering if he’s done right in releasing Tomcat and Irish, trust is a fragile credence.

Darrow’s Gamble proved to be an excellent read that left me eager to catch up and the previous three Darrow books and hoping that Gillian F. Taylor doesn’t keep us waiting quite so long (three years between this one and her last) before her next book comes out.

Friday 27 December 2013

Livin' on Jacks and Queens

Edited by Robert J. Randisi
Piccadilly Publishing, November 2013

Livin’ on Jacks and Queens is an anthology of fourteen short stories all revolving around gambling put together by Robert Randisi. None of these stories have been published before and a couple of them feature characters that have appeared elsewhere, such as Scott Parker’s tale and Robert Randisi’s that sees the return of Talbot Roper.

Most of the stories use cards as the method of gambling but a couple offer other ways of winning or losing, such as Chuck Tyrell’s boat race, Randisi’s throwing horseshoes, and Christine Matthews’ betting on how lawmen will leave their jobs.

The authors are a mix of old-hands and those who are newer to the western genre and that’s where, for me, the strength of such anthologies come into their own, as they give the reader a chance to try out writers who are new to them and will, I’m sure, discover some they will be keen to explore further work from.

Of course I have my favourites among this collection, but can honestly say I enjoyed each of them. There’s stories that follow traditional western themes, one that borders on being a horror tale, and one that’ll have you thinking is this possible?

At a price of less than £2.00 and just over $3.00 how can you not afford to give this terrific collection of gambling stories a chance?

Jacks or Better by Johnny Boggs 
A Cold Deck by Phil Dunlap 
The Reckoning by Randy Lee Eickhoff 
It Takes a Gambler by Jerry Guin 
Odds on a Lawman by Christine Matthews 
Pay the Ferryman by Matthew P. Mayo 
White Face, Red Blood by Rod Miller 
Hazard by Nik Morton 
Acey Deucy by John Nesbitt 
The Mark of an Imposter: An Evelyn Page/Calvin Carter Adventure by Scott Parker 
Horseshoe and Pistols by Robert J. Randisi 
Too Many Aces by Charlie Steel 
Missouri Boat Race by Chuck Tyrell 
The Legend of ‘Blind Ned’ Baldwin by Lori Van Pelt 

Sunday 22 December 2013

Gun Storm

By Corba Sunman
Hale, December 2013

Deputy Jim Donovan has his fair share of worries: his brother has suffered brain damage as a result of an accident; the notorious Elroy Johnson is back in circulation, after Donovan put him away; and Martha Preston, wife of the local store keeper has been robbed and murdered.

There is temptation from Della Jordan, attractive owner of the local saloon, to quit his job and take a job on her horse ranch, but can Della be trusted? And with Stomp Cullen and his gang in town to rob the bank is there going to be any way to avoid the mighty gun storm?

As you can tell from the blurb above, Corba Sunman packs a lot into this story. Donovan isn’t given a moment of time to take a breather before one incident merges with another. Every chapter has its share of action, mostly gunplay but Sunman adds a well depicted fistfight and a couple of jail-breaks for variety. All this means that the term action-packed could have been invented to describe this book.

Each storyline is well thought out and will have you guessing as to who committed the murder of Martha Preston and how Donovan can stop the outlaws whilst trying to keep his brother alive and decide how he feels about Della Jordan.

Each thread of this very fast moving yarn comes to a satisfactory conclusion amidst a hail of lead, and I was left feeling thoroughly entertained and looking forward to Corba Sunman’s next book.

Gun Storm has an official release date of December 31st but is available now from the usual Internet bookstores.

Saturday 14 December 2013

The Fire of Greed

By Bill Yenne
Berkley, November 2013

Bounty hunter Bladen Cole rode into Santa Fe with the bodies of two wanted outlaws who decided to try their luck against his Colt .45. But he’s riding out with an even more profitable venture – the capture of four robbers who stole a payroll from the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway.

Rather than let word spread about the theft, the railroad men need someone who can get the job done quickly and quietly. This is a job for a bounty hunter.

Following a trail of bodies, Cole soon realizes that the payroll robbery is only the beginning of something much bigger and bloodier on the horizon…

This is the second Bladen Cole book and it proves to be just as an entertaining read as the first. Bill Yenne fills his tale with intrigue, action, and a number of excellent twists to the tale.

Bladen Cole’s pursuit of the payroll robbers brings up painful memories of his past, something that will become one of the major storylines of this tale. Cole will also meet someone who may have a meaningful role to play in his future too.

Bill Yenne switches regularly from character to character weaving a number of different threads that are soon heading on a collision course. Not all these threads are resolved at the same time, in fact some launch new problems for the bounty hunter.

With both strong male and female roles, a gripping plot that at times mirrors a Shakespeare play, exciting gunfights, visual descriptions, believable dialogue (and very little bad language), this is a book that should be on the reading list of all western fans.

Monday 9 December 2013

Town Tamers

By David Robbins
Signet, December 2013

Ludlow, Texas, has a problem. A band of rowdy and violent cowhands from the Circle K ranch has been terrorizing the small town, drinking, smashing windows, and even shooting up innocent citizens. With the townsfolk terrified, Ludlow is on its way to falling totally under the gang’s control – unless someone does something about it.

Asa Delaware has a good reputation as a very bad man to cross. Roaming the West with his two grown children and with his gun always for hire, he’s known as the Town Tamer. For a fee, he’ll fix what – or who – is causing a ruckus. There isn’t any job he’ll walk away from or any challenge he finds too hard. But when his children start backing out of the family business, Delaware may find out what it means to be on the business end of a shotgun barrel….

If it is action you want then this story is packed with it. Told with style and visual prose that puts you right there, witnessing the Town Tamers cleaning up Ludlow in a hail of lead and blood.

It’s easy to follow Delaware’s belief that he, and his children, fight on the side of good against evil but then David Robbins throws a deadly problem into Delaware’s path when he’s called to Ordville, Colorado. A town with troubles where it isn’t clear just who are the good or the bad.

David Robbins has created a great set of characters for this stand-alone novel. The Delaware’s that soon had me wishing there were more books about them. The Gray Ghosts. The man known as The Tracker, and so the list goes on.

David Robbins often writes books with a strong family bond and this one is no different. It is beautifully crafted and will have you sharing the emotional struggle Delaware has when his son announces he wants out of the family business. A fathers’ love for his children hitting home hard during the aftermath of a lethal gunfight.

Filled with cliff-hanger situations, believable dialogue, and brutal action sequences, this is a very fast-flowing story.

Town Tamers, in my opinion, is a story that should be enjoyed by all western fans, and is truly a hard-to-put-down read.

Thursday 5 December 2013

The Bronc Buster

By Billy Hall
Hale, November 2013

Bullied as a kid because of his size, Ian Hennessy has sworn never to run from anyone again. But facing a stranger wearing a tied-down Smith & Wesson with a five-inch barrel, there is no doubt that the gunman is after the price on Hennessy’s head.

Now, with the sun directly in his eyes, he can just make out a second gunman, poised to shoot him if he tries to run. And Hennessy’s dreams of going west, and establishing a ranch with the girl he loves, will all come down to this moment….

Roughly the first third of this book tells of how Hennessy was bullied at school and of how he comes to stand up to his tormentors. There’s many a well described fist-fight during this part of the story. He also meets a girl who will become the woman of his dreams.

How to stand-up to bullies isn’t the only new ability Hennessy will learn at this stage of his life. He also discovers, after training, that he is a natural at the fast-draw. Something that he hopes he will never have to use.

So this is a story that shows a young boy growing into a man who doesn’t back down for anyone. A young man who is reluctant to use his talents with fist and gun.

Billy Hall builds his story thoughtfully and almost gently. Hennessy tries to stay out of trouble and make a good living as a bronc buster but the senseless killing of a horse sees his anger begin to boil, but who to direct this hatred at?

There’s another lesson waiting to mould Hennessy, that of learning to control his emotions when being forced to kill. When this happens Billy Hall really ups the pace of this excellent story and gunplay becomes a major element of the latter part of the tale.

So does Hennessy build the life of his dreams with the woman he desires? Is he even alive at the end of the story? Obviously I can’t answer those questions here but I’m sure anyone who chooses to read this book will have fun finding out.

Sunday 1 December 2013

Trouble at Nathan's Ford

By Jack Sheriff
Hale, November 2013

When a planned bank robbery in Drystone City results in the death of the owner’s wife, Cage turns his back on lawlessness and heads home. But when he arrives in the border town of Nathan’s Ford, he has been followed by his nemesis and rides into tragedy. With his family’s ranch burned to the ground, and his parents and brother murdered by Mexican rustlers, Cage – aided by childhood friend Velvet Goodwine and reluctant bank owner Milton Guthrie – sets off in pursuit of the killers.

A confrontation with the rustlers leads to the unmasking of the man behind the deaths, and a bloody finale, which leaves Cage fighting desperately for his life and the lives of the only friends he has left.

Jack Sheriff can always be relied on to present the reader with what at first appears to be a straightforward western tale but then adds twists and turns to ensure you’ll be wondering just how the story will end.

His character studies are excellent but in this case it’s his descriptions of fear and exhaustion and the human will to carry on at all costs that came over so powerfully to me. Just read the scene of a desperate struggle not to drown for one example of this.

Yes, I had my suspicions as to who killed the bankers’ wife, and yes I was correct, but how the killer died came as a complete surprise; understated and neatly done.

Velvet Goodwine (what a great name) deserves a mention as she proves to be an exceptional female lead whose knowledge of some of the other characters more than helps in unmasking the person behind the murder of Cage’s family. Velvet’s ability with firearms, both handgun and rifle, are used to great effect too.

Trouble at Nathan’s Ford is a book that I believe should be enjoyed by all who like fast moving traditional westerns and I’m certainly looking forward to the next book from John Paxton Sheriff, under whichever of his pseudonyms it is published.